Monthly Archives: March 2011

HATED: Ad agency ditches Fairfax over video autoplay deception

Illustration: Truth and LieAd industry website Mumbrella reports that a leading agency “UM” has banned their clients’ ad from appearing on Fairfax websites because the company lied about whether users hate the incredibly annoying, inconvenient and disrespectful “autoplay” of videos when pages load.

The decision will hit the Fairfax bottom-line because UM’s clients are some of the biggest spending in online advertising including the big-spending Federal Government, Coles, Microsoft and Sony Pictures.

Most reputable sites do not autoplay videos as it seen as discourteous and presumptuous.

Fairfax has been caught out blatantly lying to advertisers about the user response to this disrespectful autoplay impertinence. This could potentially damage significant relationships for the listed company, already the most shorted stock on the Australian Stock Exchange with many in the market believing the conglomerate will be broken up, with the profitable red-neck radio business being spun off and regional print monopolies going to private equity who’ll love the steady and predictable returns that at least for now aren’t going to be eaten alive by online competition. Its daily newspapers, with the possible exception of the Fin Review, are doomed.

So the company has been trying to squeeze every last penny out of online, blasting internet users with screeching online ads and video reports they haven’t asked to watch, regardless of the time or place.

But it’s the lying about the reaction that is causing a massive industry backlash.

When Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes interviewed Fairfax Digital’s MD of media Pippa Leary about the issue last year she claimed: “What’s amazing is 75% of people who come to the site watch those videos to completion. We test it constantly. We ask them those questions – overwhelmingly they come back and say no, we prefer to stop it.”

…UM’s own research also directly contradicts Fairfax’s claims. The agency surveyed a sample of 500 people who regularly visit Fairfax sites. It said that 96% of people found the practice “annoying”. And in a finding bringing into question the effectiveness of video ads in that environment,  44% of respondents saying they always muted their computer when videos played.

In damning research, UM found some 25% ditch the page completely when they get an autoplay video, 61% feel negatively towards companies with autoplay ads,

According to UM:

“This research contradicts a study presented to media agencies in 2010 by Fairfax stating autoplay was not as widely disliked as people thought.”

No-one likes being lied to and obviously Fairfax have played ad agencies for suckers on this for some time, chewing up lots of their clients’ money while making users hate the brands tainted by association with the annoying, unethical and disreputable Fairfax practice.

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EARLY POLL: Abbott won’t rule out no-compete deal with Oakeshott

vano_phelpsEarlier this month, being first with the worst, VEXNEWS reported that “enterprising National party strategists” were contemplating an arrangement with country members Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor where they withdrew their support for the government, brought on an early election to settle the issue of whether we should have a carbon dioxide tax in return for the Nats agreeing to not oppose them in their seats.

At last weekend’s NSW state election, despite the carbon tax not being a state election issue directly, the Nats did extremely well in the area including Oakeshott’s seat and very well in the state seats in Tony Windsor’s New England seat.

Peter van Onselen, the dashing and erudite political analyst at The Australian, reports today that Tony Abbott was asked directly on the weekend whether he would “rule out” such an accommodation:

On Sunday, Tony Abbott refused to rule out doing a deal with Oakeshott, offering not to run a Coalition candidate in his seat if he switched sides. That’s a remote prospect now, but if Labor’s position doesn’t improve, Oakeshott may become nervous enough to be amenable to such an offer.

Canberra can be dull outside the confines of a couple of bars on a Wednesday parliamentary sitting night but at the moment the drama is nearly worthy of a day-time soap-opera.

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ALL HAT NO CATTLE: Tassie media darling turned politician exposed

legislative_council_smlTasmania’s Legislative Council was first created in 1825, making it considerably older than some of Australia’s oldest and mightiest institutions, including, for example, the Essendon Football Club, which was originally formed in 1871 before going on to win 16 /VFLAFL Premierships, the highest number in the competition. (Essendon is also currently top of the AFL ladder) But we digress.

In the nation’s most picturesque state, they are on the verge of having Legislative Council elections, something that usually grips the island as they resolve the vexed issue of which lucky 15 Taswegians get to sit in the historic chamber that cannot block supply and cannot force the government to election.

Even though the first Speaker of the chamber was Sir Richard Dry, MLCs in Tasmania have been known to enjoy a tipple to relieve the monotony of life on the red couches.

THE NOT FAMOUS FIFTEEN
There are fifteen members. Candidates can only spend ten grand on their campaigns and no other person or party is allowed to spend money promoting their favoured.

Currently the quirky chamber has three ALP members, a solitary Lib and eleven Independents at various points along both the ideological and mental health spectrum(s).

They are all single member electorates too.

One of the seats – Rumney – sees current Education Minister and former special needs teacher Lin Thorp being challenged by a former childrens’ commissioner Paul Mason who is known for talking a good game with scribes while actually not doing a great deal.

CARPET-BAGGER ARRIVES
Scandalising locals about his candidacy isn’t the fact that he does not live in the seat and knows very little of it at all, according to VEXNEWS Investigators familiar with his activities.

They note that the only reason he’s running is that he’s all bitter and twisted about not being reappointed as Kiddies Commissioner last year.

It has come out that in fact an independent selection panel made up of luminaries such as the Police Commissioner and the NSW Childrens’ Commissioner ranked incumbent Mason as second last out of five applicants. Not a good look for any incumbent. In the language of the Nine Network he was “boned”.

MEDCRAFT OF THE SOUTH
In protesting the grave injustice that cut Mr Mason from the keenly-sucked public-teat he has projected himself as a champion of the disadvantaged and all-round do-gooder, locals report.

And yet it appears – in an astonishing instance of political sleaze – that he is willing to accept anonymous political donations, a practice the Federal Government is attempting to outlaw.

Locals complain that while Mason bleats over the injustices done to him that he could well be perpetrating a grave injustice on the community by accepting money from illegitimate sources.

ANONYMOUS DONATIONS AND LUNAR VIEWS
His website proudly declares – in a blatant solicitation – that “donations can be made anonymously” which has prompted concerns that all sorts of worrying rogues, including for example wealthy mass-murderers, pimps, drug dealers or Mercury editor Garry Bailey could be assisting his cause, under a cloak of secrecy or cone of silence. While unlikely examples the media tart would have no way of knowing because he says he accepts anonymous donations.

The sanctimonious rent-a-quote Mason – a former ambulance chasing lawyer – has views that cross the border at zany and enter the Tasmanian territory of certifiable. Highlights of his less than brilliant career:

■ A sharia-style ban on women “of child-bearing age” drinking alcohol in case they fall pregnant telling the Mercury "Theoretically no women of child-bearing age should drink alcohol, full stop, no matter how unfair that sounds”;

■ A demand that roads be replaced with dead-end ‘cul-de-sacs’ and new homes be built with bigger front yards to ensure children could mix a bit more.

â–  Pushing for a requirement that the customers of prostitutes be required to have a medical certificate before they purchased whatever services they desired; and

■ Giving advice to an abused 12-year-old that she ought to wait an adult before suing the state government. Many say this is dud advice because she’d be outside the statute of limitations, potentially massively adding to her legal costs.

uglytassie

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BACKLASH: Greens in crisis lash "these Jews"

israeliflagThe NSW Greens are in a deeply troubled funk, caused by the enormous community backlash against their hateful and disgusting boycott of Israel, a policy calculated at undermining the Jewish state, with Senator-Elect Lee Rhiannon bizarrely reflecting that the Greens need to promote the policy even more (!) in an amusing friendly-fire article by Antony Loewenstein, whose record of Israel bashing is probably only exceeded by Hamas.

“Low-blow” as he is cordially known reveals not only that the Greens party is considering attempting to silence its many critics in high-priced defamation (and has singled out News Ltd’s Andrew Bolt and Penbo) action but also the deep hatred of Jamie Parker at “these Jews.” As we will see, it’s a disturbing rant.

RIGHT SAID FRED
The Reverend Fred Nile MLC clearly has a wry sense of humour about their pain. Members of the VEXNEWS Investigations Unit embedded in the NSW Parliament report that Nile has the misfortune of having his parliamentary office immediately adjacent to those of the Greens MPs. He has made it clear where he stands by proudly displaying this week in his office window a flag of the State of Israel. Love his work.

BOO HOO
His former upper-house colleague Lee Rhiannon is crying into her chai latte about the whole thing, sharing with New Matilda’s readers her angst about why the wheels fell of the Greens power-lust bid for lower-house representation:

NSW Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon acknowledged to New Matilda that the Greens could have explained BDS better both internally and externally: “Months before the election we needed to explain why the Greens backed BDS and we needed to work closer with our allies on BDS; academics, the Arab community and social justice movements in Sydney and Melbourne. Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for BDS and show that this is part of an international movement.”

Ominously, the Senator-Elect speaks of working with “the Arab community” to promote a boycott on Israel. This deplorable plot to encourage, exploit and promote hostility between Australian Jews and those of Arab descent to rescue the Greens party from a political nightmare is ugly enough, but what’s worse is the deep ignorance it shows. We know plenty of Arabs – Lebanese Christians and many others besides – who are appalled not just by the idea of boycotting Israel but also by those few foul fanatics who fling filth at the Jewish state.

We also think it’s very telling Rhiannon constantly refers to the digusting and contemptible boycott of Jewish commerce by an empty-sounding apparently harmless acronym, “BDS”.

No mention of the boycott word, the divestment word or the sanctions word. No mention of its effects on real people and a real country whose own survival since 1949 has been nothing short of miraculous.

THE POLICY THAT DAREN’T SPEAK ITS NAME
Just “BDS”, they call it.

Rhiannon doesn’t mention the words because it’s a scandalous policy. Too embarrassing and shameful to spell out. A throwback to the darkest days in the history of the world.

If Israel’s defenders can win in Balmain and Marrickville, they can win anywhere.

Is that VEXNEWS hyperbole you know so well? Not at all. The Greens “BDS” policy – of boycotts, divestment and sanctions for the Jewish state – is calculated at doing nothing less than undermining the viability of Israel, imperilling the lives of six million Jews in Israel. Boycotts of Israeli exports, bans on investment in Israel, other sanctions designed to shut the country down could not have any other effect or be designed to have any other effect.

A VICTORY FOR DECENCY
That this policy was so emphatically rejected by the lefty communities of Balmain and Marrickville is a tremendous source of encouragement to those who sometimes think Israel is fighting a losing PR battle it can never win, judged by standards no country could ever meet, cursed by UN politics so heavily weighted in favour of the world’s worst and most odious regimes.

If Israel’s defenders can win in Balmain and Marrickville, they can win anywhere.

SPLITTING IN TWO
And beyond Rhiannon, the Greens are splitting apart on the issue, as Loewenstein reported:

Just retired Greens MLC Ian Cohen told New Matilda that he thinks it (the Greens policy of boycotting Israel) was a major factor, a position he’s held, with various degrees of consistency, for some time. He’s opposed to BDS, believes it unfairly targets Israel and ignores other gross human rights abuses across the world: “Many pro-Israel people worried about the lack of consistency and this included Greens members. Nothing was said about dictatorships in the Arab world from the Greens … I believe there is a huge scope for criticism of Israeli behaviour against the Palestinian people but BDS for the Greens was an old style, in the trenches method of pushing a campaign. It wasn’t properly assessed how it would affect the NSW election campaign. The Jewish community outrage had a significant impact on our candidates.”

You bet it did. And it will continue to do so.

THE EVIL EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
It gets better. Despite attacking developers for silencing community activism by using defamation writs, the Greens party has a high-priced critic-silencing programme ready to roll:

The Greens are now examining possible legal action against writers who have potentially defamed members as anti-Semitic .(News Limited’s Andrew Bolt is one of the worst offenders.)

Bring. It. On.

We really hope they do. In case we hadn’t said it clearly enough in the past: if you push anti-Semitic, racist policies calculated to undermine the viability of the Jewish state then you are an anti-Semite. Fiona Byrne did this. Fiona Byrne, therefore, is an anti-Semite and is unfit for public office of any kind. Our message to Fiona Byrne (for the sake of judicial clarity): Suck it up, racist.

We’d gladly defend a defamation claim on any of this, any time, any place. Singling out Israel with insanely unfair criticism is racist. Judging the Jewish state by impossible standards that couldn’t be applied to any other nation is racist. It is anti-Semitism. A boycott is just a practical implementation of anti-Semitism and racism.

Our position on legal threats is the same as it ever was: we will stand up to any bully from billionaires down to the gutter. Too many Greens and extreme-leftists are willing to check their free-speech-enthusiasm at the door when it comes to attacking their own foes. Their humbug is limitless. They are bullies who when confronted squeal and carry on like stuck pigs.

THE BULLY FROM BALMAIN (OR HOW HORNY GOAT WEED MADE JAMIE LIMP)
And lest there be any doubt the Greens are bullies, consider the foul musings of bitter and twisted dud candidate in Balmain Jamie Parker. The real reason for Parker’s dismal result (he ran third) was his involvement in a shonky vitamin company that promoted Horny Goat Weed but he’s blaming the Jews, according to Loewenstein:

When the Murdoch press editor David Penberthy wrote that, “[Fiona] Byrne’s been busy advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht in the Inner West”, Parker hoped progressive Jews he knew would condemn the offensive comparison. They did not. “These Jews provide cover for extreme actions if they occur. If there’s a sniff of you being critical of Israel, such Jews will attack you and cut you loose.” BDS simply made many Jewish people unreasonable and extremely upset, Jews told Parker.

Parker says that the reaction of the Zionist lobby and local Jewish community during the election has revealed that they are willing to allow smears and violent actions against the Greens. Parker, who has spent years working on collaborative projects between local Jews and Palestinians, is now fed up with what he sees as Jewish silence. Local Jewish leaders have contacted him since Saturday to try and repair the damage but they still refuse to apologise for aggressive Jewish behaviour.

Consider the chilling words attributed by New Matilda to Jamie Parker:

“These Jews”…

“Jews will attack you and cut you loose”

“Zionist lobby”

“fed up with what he sees as Jewish silence”

“they (the Jews) still refuse to apologise for aggressive Jewish behaviour”

SELF-CRITICISM LACKING
Parker’s misplaced anger should be re-directed from the Jewish people and back towards his own misconduct in spruiking Horny Goat Weed.

It’s a big call to say someone is unfit for public office. It’s not something we say lightly.

When the Greens have elected representatives like Lee Rhiannon and failed candidates like anti-Semite Fiona Byrne and Jamie Parker whose anger at “these Jews” is about as disturbing as anything you’d hear in a Ku Klux Klan meeting, they are flirting with the dark side of politics that hates Jews, judges the Jewish state by unique standards and implements policies designed to undermine Israel’s viability and therefore endanger the lives of millions. If you dare, go to the neo-Nazi Stormfront online forum website and see how keen they are about boycotts of Israel. It’s scary stuff. They hope that BDS will achieve what countless Arab armies have failed to do: defeat Israel once and for all and drive its citizens into the sea.

Re-badging Israel-hating policies with a Greens party triangle doesn’t change a thing. Concern for the plight of Palestinians must never be manifested in undermining Israel’s security or viability. If the lefty inner-city communities of Balmain and Marrickville can understand this, there’s hope.

Our disparagement of the extreme-left Greens party can be considerable. But it’s never been more justified than in this case. They are staring into a political abyss of their own choosing.

THURSDAY 3PM UPDATE: Another twist in this sordid saga comes as sources close to Jamie Parker reveal to VEXNEWS that he disputes the quotes attributed to him by “journalist” Antony Loewenstein. “Low-blow” does have a reputation for misquoting or quote-fabricating so we might have to give Parker the benefit of the doubt unless the “journalist” can produce a recording. With friends like Loewenstein, Parker probably doesn’t need any more enemies. Interestingly though Parker has not publicly distanced himself from the hate-speech attributed to him by his left-wing friends.

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SNELL, SNELL: Vic Liberals stand to attention to salute new President

backstageTony Snell has been elected President of the Victorian division of the Liberal party unopposed. Liberal insiders say many think Snell is an independently-minded slightly pro-Costello operator. But some tell VEXNEWS that he’s tricky and will be keen to make nice with Premier Baillieu and his Rasputin, Petro Georgiou, the former federal Liberal MP who is thought to wield a domineering influence over Victorian government decisions despite not being elected and holding down no official position of responsibility.

Snell made his pile – many millions it is believed – from being a partner at the legal millionaire factory Mallesons, coming into his own during the Kennett era where the firm was one of that government’s favoured legal pets.

He is thought to be very bright and with plenty of rich bloke time on his minds now that he is basically semi-retired and has got stuck into post-graduate studies and will now potter around the Liberal party garden.

He might even have time to pop into the Tolarno Galleries at Liberal HQ 104 Exhibition Street where highly controversial artist Bill Henson is exhibiting a few teen and pre-teen nudes (all in the name of art). Some of Henson’s work can cost $30,000 a throw even though many of the images would probably be unlawful if produced by anyone else.

Observers say the Admin Committee will be very interesting as the Victorian Liberals settle back into being in government after the initial shock that Ted had a victory in him. At the end of the new Admin Committee’s term, federal preselections will be due including a widely anticipated grudge match between Senator Helen Kroger and factional brother turned possible foe Scott Ryan over positioning on the Senate ticket. Looks like #3 will be reasonably safe so we’re not really sure what the fuss is about and many others share our view.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Liberal Party of Australia (Vic Div) <sarah.casey@vic.liberal.org.au>
Date: 28 March 2011 17:54
Subject: Nominations for Election
To: sophie.mirabella.mp@aph.gov.au

I set out below details of nominations received for the following positions:

State President
Tony Snell

Treasurer
Andrew Abercrombie

Vice President – Metro (Male)
Ross Fox

Vice President – Metro (Female)
Dr Sandra Mercer Moore, AM

Vice President – Country (Male)
Angelo Kakouros
Peter McWilliam
John Renyard

Vice President – Country (Female)
Maureen Clifford
Louise Staley
Norma Wells

Administrative Committee – Metro (Male)
Daniel Bevan
Ross Fox *
Greg Hannan
David Mulholland

Administrative Committee – Metro (Female)
Jane Hume
Caroline Elliott

Administrative Committee – Country (Male)
Peter Angelico
Christopher Earl
John Gault
Angelo Kakouros
John Renyard
John Van Beveren

Administrative Committee – Country (Female)
Robyn Cox
Maureen Clifford
Samantha McIntosh
Louise Staley
Norma Wells

State Assembly – Metro (Male)
Jason Aldworth
Wajde Assaf
Julian Barendse
Andrew Bell
Daniel Bevan
Alexander Cambria
Ben Coleman
Yoni Cukierman
Nicholas Demiris
Con Frantzeskos
Greg Hannan
George Hua
Byron Hodkinson
Mathew Knight
Christopher Koch
Simon Kroger
Trent Martin
David Mulholland
John Nguyen
Samli Ozturk
Ian Quick
James Paterson
Scott Pearce
Mike Pountney
Philip Ratcliff
Bradley Rowswell
Brendan Rowswell
Tim Smith
Roger Teale
Luke Tobin
Simon Wilson
Tim Wilson

State Assembly – Metro(Female)
Chantalle Abou-Haila
Susie Bartlett
Lydia Bevege
Caitlin Brown
Hanife Bushby
Holly Byrne
Sally Carrick
Isabella Cicchiello
Cate Dealehr
Caroline Elliott **
Rebecca Gauci
Felicity Giles
Jane Hume **
Georgia Letten
Jenny Mulholland
Jemma Townson
Susan Turner
Jeanne Wheeler

State Assembly – Country (Male)
Florian Andrighetto
Peter Angelico
Liam Barry
Dean Bushell
Ben Collier
Courtney Dixon
Christopher Earl
John Gault
Martin Ireland
Angelo Kakouros
William Kenny
Aaron Lane
Bruce McClure
Adam McKee
Matt Makin
Rohan Millar
Joshua Morris
Rodney Nockles
John Renyard
John Shipp
John Van Beveren
Lindsay Webb

State Assembly – Country (Female)
Mary Aldred
Ann Bitans
Noni Bartlett
Amanda Campbell
Michelle Challis
Vicki Coltman
Robyn Cox
Charley Daniel
Narelle Earl
Robyne Head
Sarah Henderson
Helen Leach
Samantha McIntosh
Amanda Millar
Fiona Ogilvy-O’Donnell
Helen Senior
Rosemary Trepp
Virginia Wallace
Norma Wells
Voi Williams

Agenda Committee – Metro (Male)
Wajde Assaf
Nicholas Demiris
Thomas Ellis

Agenda Committee – Metro (Female)
Kaye Farrow

Agenda Committee – Country (Male)
Peter Angelico
Angelo Kakouros
Rodney Nockles
John Van Beveren

Agenda Committee – Country ( Female)
Samantha McIntosh

* Indicates elected unopposed to the senior office of State Vice-President and thus the Administrative Committee
** Indicates elected to the Administrative Committee and thus State Assembly

All candidates are reminded of the provisions of Clause 11.17 (a) (d) of the Constitution relating to public statements and the circulation of material.

In addition candidates are reminded that they may, under Clause 11.17 (e) request a copy of the delegates list by writing to me via Julie Reid, Manager, Membership Services atjulie.reid@vic.liberal.org.au.

Candidates may appoint a Scrutineer, per Clause 11.2 B, by notifying me in writing prior to the commencement of voting for that election. A Scrutineer must be a Party Member. Correspondence should be addressed to Tony McKenna, Manager, State Council at tony.mckenna@vic.liberal.org.au.

Damien Mantach
State Director

Authorised by Damien Mantach
104 Exhibition Street
MELBOURNE  VIC  3000

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CRYING WOLF: False cries of racism truly help bigotry

Is it racial vilification to question a person’s claim to be an indigenous Australian?

Of course, it depends how you say it. Or question it.

A number of Aboriginal leaders are suing under racial vilification laws, arguing that the Herald Sun’s popular columnist Andrew Bolt has vilified them.

While one isn’t meant to pre-judge cases before the Federal Court, we’re sure the judge, our old friend Mordy Bromberg, a former St Kilda player and long-time ALP member who was in the latte left-leaning ALP “Independents” faction (popular with barristers and baristas alike) before bombing out in a preselection for the safe federal Melbourne western suburbs seat of Gorton, won’t mind. It’s clearly a crock, a case brought for all the wrong reasons.

There’s not a racially vilifying word in any of Bolt’s columns. We know. We looked. Here. Here. And here.

DIFFERENT STROKES
Racial and ethnic identity is complex. Many of us don’t think about it all. To the best of my limited knowledge, my ancestors come from Wales and Scotland via England. But I don’t really know, having failed to sign up to ancestry.com [affiliate link here], ignored family members’ occasional interest in such things and while once gladly receiving votes from some in my elective office days who assumed I was Greek. Yassou.

Some people – and it’s a bit hard for most of us to relate to – latch on to a part of their family tree (be it Hungarian or Mongolian) and identify with it. Others yet are brought up immersed in a culture and sometimes a language from far away and find it a tremendous blessing. It binds families together and helps new arrivals find a solid footing here.

SHUNNING THE PAST
Some like Senator Eric Abetz – who yesterday ripped into Labor MP Michael Danby for not being sufficiently pro-Israel – have been unfairly criticised by association because they had a senior Nazi war-criminal as an great-uncle, in his case a charmer called Otto who was a Brigade-Leader in the SS before serving twenty years in jail for war-crimes.

Perhaps Herr Eric was over-compensating. Who knows.

So some shun their past, others ignore it or don’t learn about ti and others immerse themselves in a racial or national identity that could belong to another time or a far-away place.

Good luck to them. Whatever floats their boat. Indeed, if it helps them makes sense of the world that way and gives them a sense of place then we’re all for it.

QUESTIONING PUBLIC FIGURES IS FAIR ENOUGH
But when some identify with the Aboriginal people, a group that has been the victim of sometimes the most searing and vicious and violent oppression ever seen in Australia, then I think it’s perfectly legitimate for there to be a healthy debate about whether just anyone can consider themselves to be an Aborigine when their family tree doesn’t show much of a connection.

When young author Helen Darville operated under a Ukrainian pseudonym Helen Demidenko, she was presumed by many to have a racial motivation; certainly no-one was criticised for being racist for challenging her ethnic credentials. Indeed she became a national punching-bag for a time because of a debate over her ethnic credentials. No-one suggested that the debate over her bona fides was motivated by racism, even when it had lynch-mob intensity.

NO OBSESSING
That’s not to say we should be obsessing about racial background down to the level of racial fractions either, in the way past generations did. Indeed, Andrew Bolt didn’t do that, he merely questioned their credentials to claim Aboriginal community leadership.

There’s a balance. It’s a legitimate and certainly not a racist or racially vilifying discussion to question the ethnic credentials of public figures who make that a central part of their identity.

ESKIMO PIES ALL ROUND

If I were to claim to be Eskimo, and formed my claim on the basis of a deep-and-abiding love of Eskimo Pies, I would be rightly mocked. And it wouldn’t be racist to call me on it.

So when Andrew Bolt, a lightning-rod for Lefty criticism, (pun intended) made the point that some – who didn’t appear to be likely victims of racism or exclusion because of their Aboriginality – were positioning themselves as the most prominent spokespeople of Aborigines, and enjoying the benefits the community has allocated to them, he made a typically reasoned and very well-researched argument questioning their claim. Even his foes and critics concede that Bolt is extremely thorough and diligent.

BE THE CHANGE YOU SEEK COMRADES
Looking at those columns, it’s clear. There’s not a word of racial vilification or disparagement on racial grounds. And not a word of racism. Bolt was merely pointing out the obvious that a few prominent Aborigines who seemed particularly keen to promote racial difference appeared not really have much of an Aboriginal background.

When there are – as there should be – affirmative action measures to address indigenous exclusion and inequality of opportunity, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask whether people who might not have been the victim of that exclusion might be muscling in on the quotas or benefits that ought really go to someone else. It’s not racist to ensure that programmes for Aborginal people actually go to Aboriginal people.

It’s not racist to raise that issue. Some – like those on Fairfax radio (increasingly the home of the bigot and the loon especially in Sydney where membership of One Nation helps you get on the roster) – might incite racial hatred every time they mention the First Australians but it is possible to discuss those issues, genuinely important public policy issues, without engaging in racial vilification, as any reasonable person would define it.

Far from racism, Bolt urged:

In fact, let’s go beyond racial pride. Beyond black and white. Let’s be proud only of being human beings set on this land together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent such racist and trivial excuses to divide.

And that’s why the litigation accusing Bolt of racial vilification on such a thin basis is such a big worry.

We hope that our chum, Justice Mordy Bromberg can see what many can which is that this case has been brought to falsely claim Andrew Bolt is a racist and to intimidate him into silence on this delicate subject. (Delicate for them)

Arguing about the ancestry of public figures, and their motivation for claiming an ancestry others might not think they really have, is not racial vilification when in the clearly non-vilifying political context of Bolt’s columns.

WE FEEL FOOLISH
We thought racial vilification laws very important at their time they were passed. Too many searing anti-Semite Larouchite newsletters have been distributed in Caulfield, too many people of non-English speaking background involved in party politics automatically presumed by The Age and ABC to be corrupt branch-stackers, too many synagogues vandalised, too many Jewish men with yamulkes attacked, too many Muslim women in traditional garb screamed at (and worse) and too many Aborigines beaten up – we thought – for vicious statements of racism not to be made illegal.

There were many who thought these laws were prone to being abused. We’re sad to say it seems they were right.

The class-action plaintiffs claiming they’ve been racially vilified have not sued in defamation, because truth is a defence to defamation.

We haven’t yet read their statement of claim or heard their lawyer’s high-priced arguments.

But we see once again yet another example of those who’d be the first to tut-tut about conservative governments limiting free-speech rights failing to apply those stated principles consistently.

We don’t need to see the fine print to know this is scandalous, vexatious and outrageous litigation.

It trivialises not only racial vilification but will no doubt have the effect of making the fight against genuine racism seem petty and small and vindictive.

A TENUOUS CLAIM TO VICTIMHOOD
I don’t know what it is to be the victim of racial vilification or racism. But I hate it. My old man was a politician and at school as a group they tended not to be universally popular so I can relate to an exotic version of prejudice. While my modest good looks, right hook and charm were sufficient to combat occasional outbreaks, I didn’t like it much and I don’t doubt racism must hurt infinitely more.

History teaches us that racism is a cancer that we must constantly fight and smite in order to maintain a civil and decent and unified society. We should take it very seriously and I’m glad we do. We have seen the race-riots, the genocides and apartheid in other countries and know the high price of letting racism run rampant. We should have zero tolerance for it.

The litigation brought by some of those mentioned in Bolt’s column is a menace to that mission. Those involved in bringing the case, including former judge Ron Merkel QC, ought be ashamed of themselves. We can only hope that justice is done.

If Andrew Bolt, a popular columnist with a huge following across the nation, published in the nation’s most profitable and successful newspaper, can be dragged through this absurd process, then anyone can be. And will be.

Free speech has never had more outlets. And never had more threats to face either.

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HOT-HEAD: Barnaby's impressively weird media release

Senator Barnaby Joyce is more than just a clever politician – as the insult goes – he’s a pitch-perfect communicator with rural folk and many others too.

While his brief moment as Finance spokesdude didn’t add up, he is otherwise very impressive.

Impressively weird though is this press release drawing on climate spruiker Tim Flannery’s apparently off-message moment.

It’s bound to be a strange one when the only part that makes sense is the Flannery quote.

We suspect the Senator and/or his staff celebrated especially joyously over the weekend as the Coalition barn-stormed its way to a smashing win in NSW.

Media Release – The carbon tax may work – in a 1000 years

Senator Barnaby Joyce

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water

Leader of The Nationals in the Senate

LNP Senator for Queensland

28th March2011

The carbon tax may work –in a 1000 years

Well I do not know whether William the Conqueror was governing for me when he knocked over poor old King Harold but according to Tim Flannery he should have been.

As absurd as it is, here is the quote, Res ipsa loquitur and 1000 years ago that would have been well understood around the castle.

Professor Tim Flannery, the Commissioner for Climate Change said on radio on Friday,” If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years…”.

By the time this proposed carbon tax has had its affect Jesus will have come and gone, again!

The two great mysteries in 1000 years time will be, “Is Stefano DiMera from Days of Our Lives really dead?” and, “Who in the Australian Labor party honestly thought they could change the climate from a room in Canberra?”

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